Let me start by saying I had a hell of a lot of fun with Man Of Steel, the last hour is filled with literally the most spectacular action ever committed to film, the music is incredible and the special effects are jaw-dropping. However it's not perfect, the origin section of the film feels rushed and the "choice" chronology the story follows prevents some of the emotional depth the movie needs.
So lets get into the structure of the film which will hopefully put my criticism into context. The opening 20 minutes on Krypton are superb and we spend a lot longer here than I was initially expecting. We meet Superman's birth parents, learn the reason Kar-El is sent to earth and a lot about the planet and how the Kryptonian society works. The final hour (once General Zod gets to earth) is also probably the best hour in any superhero movie ever.
It's the bit in between where the films weakness is shown. You see this section which primarily focuses on Clark growing up on earth is not told chronologically, it jumps from flashback to present day several times and sometimes even the flashback sections are in a random order. At one point I actually thought the cinema had missed a film roll the jump is so striking. Furthering to the problem is this section feels rushed and character moments are given no time to breath, it's as if 50 minutes of story has been cut to 30 minutes of screen time to get to the General Zod confrontation sooner. It's all over the place and due to the order the flashback scenes are told we never truly get a emotional connection to any of the characters including Clark or his relationship with his adopted parents.
Chris Nolan did a similar chronology trick in Batman Begins, but it flowed well and delivered the emotional beats. Referencing the The Dark Knight trilogy again, Nolan used the first film to tell the origin story and the 2nd film to pit the hero against a truly terrifying antagonist. Man of Steel essentially squeezes two story arcs into one movie and suffers because of it.
I get the feeling there's a 3 hour cut of this film and that's the version I'd love to see. That film would be 10/10 in my opinion. Instead, the current version is solid, with some of the most epic action and special effects I've ever seen, but a muddled and rushed origin prevents the film having the emotional impact to truly make it super.
Fortunately the second half does such an amazing job that it pulls the film back to an exceedingly high quality. The flying / fight / action sequence are so well shot and constructed that I was on the edge of my seat. I couldn't believe the scale of destruction General Zod and his minions bring to earth and the duration to which the action goes on. This is definitely a film where all the money is up on screen. This is a realistic Superman, not in the way the characters act but in the way it's filmed. The stuff is mind-blowing. I don't want to ruin it, but the last fight is bigger and better than The Avengers, the fact it looks real gives it added impact.
However the action is so incredible, you have to ask how the hell are they going to top this? The thought of Lex Luthor being in a second instalment would seem a bit underwhelming.
All the actors deliver terrific performances with Russell Crowe and Henry Cavill standing out. Unfortunately it's the fault of fast-paced editing that there's no real emotional connection to the characters. I also didn't buy Amy Adams as Lois Lane, she didn't have enough attitude for me.
Hans Zimmer again delivers an emotionally fulfilling musical score which is thrilling and does Superman proud. In fact, I couldn't fault any of the technical elements of this film, I'd love to see all the original concept art as well.
Overall, Man of Steel doesn't quite live up to the movie trailers but I had a great time with it and can't wait to see it again.
9/10 (hoping there's an extended cut that will move it up to 10)
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